May 15 was a golden day for Indian badminton as its men's team won their first-ever Thomas Cup title, beating 14-time champions Indonesia 3-0 in a heroic effort in the final of the prestigious team championship in Bangkok, Thailand.
India had never reached the final of the Thomas and Uber Cup in the tournament's 73-year-long history, but the Indian men not only broke the drought but went a step ahead and became only the 6th nation after China, Indonesia, Japan, Denmark, and Malaysia to win the Thomas Cup title.
Chants of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and the sound of Dhol were reverberating at the Impact Arena as the young Indian shuttlers came out all guns firing on the big day. India did not need the second doubles match and the third singles match as Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty and Kidambi Srikanth made it 3-0 for the historic victory.
It all began when Lakshya Sen showcased why he is one of the highly-rated young shuttlers in the world. The 20-year-old, ranked No. 9, had headed into the final on the back of defeats to Viktor Axelsen and Lee Zii Jia in the semi-final and quarter-final, respectively. It did not start well for Lakshya as he was blown away 8-21 in the opening game by Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Ginting. Lakshya looked unsettled as he was hitting with the drift after Ginting won the toss and chose sides.
However, Lakshya, just 20, retained his calm and composure, helped by his coaches from the sidelines. The young Indian shuttler, who reached the All England final, upped his game and became more proactive, forcing errors from Ginting.
The first match was played a break-neck speed as Ginting, known as one of the fastest players on the tour, was undone by Lakshya's stunning defence. Lakshya bounced back to win the opening match and give India a 1-0 lead. It was an incredible turn around as the young shuttler kept his calm, frustrating Ginting who loves to finish off rallies quickly. Lakshya's incredible defence was on display as he completed the comeback 8-21, 21-17, 21-16 in an hour and 5 minutes.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who agonisingly missed out on reaching the knockout stages at the Tokyo Olympics, made up for it by being the pillars of the Indian team throughout the competition.
Facing World No. 1 and World No. 2 doubles stars Kevin Sanjaya and Mohammad Ahsan, the young Indian pair did not wilt under pressure but thrived. After losing the opening game 18-21, Satwik and Chirag saved 4 match points to force a deicer. The confidence of Lakshya's win was evident as Satwik and Chirag stunned Sanjaya and Ahsan to give India 2-0 lead.
Kidambi Srikanth ended Thomas Cup 2022 with a perfect 6-0 record. The former World No. 1 has tasted world-level success for the 2nd time this year after having won the silver at the world championships earlier in 2022.
Srikanth brought all his experience as he remained calm under pressure to outclass Joanthan Christie 21-15, 23-21 in the second singles match which proved to be the final one of the tie.